I boarded the wrong bus in a last-ditch attempt to get to a bus stop to catch the last 197 (I already missed the train). Turns out this bus was headed in the opposite direction of the loop. And now, I find myself in… Hougang.
It’s getting late, maybe I should just flag a cab and head home.
But no, Something tells me to take a breather instead. My legs start moving. They know where to go, this is a path I’ve tread many times. I cross the road outside the MRT station, heading deeper in. I start praying to God, knowing where this road would eventually lead. What do you want to show me tonight, God?
I cross an old block of flats – an eerie red glow from an altar emanates from one of the open windows. I continue walking until I hit a pathway. Ah yes, this place…
Finally, I approach two tall blue gates. Closed. No surprise, since it’s one in the morning. Every time, I’d stop at this exact spot, never going beyond the gates. I wonder what it felt like to be able to walk past them. A snarling noise (the uncle’s throat clearing before a spit) startles me. I turned around to see an uncouth man headed in my direction.
The cool night breeze carries me along farther. I’m met by some youngsters (about four of them squeezing around a table), downing bottles of beer with puffs of cigarettes. Isn’t drinking out in public at this time against the law? I’m tempted to google ‘new alcohol law’, but decide against it. That’s not why I came here tonight.
My legs don’t stop. My thoughts race back to the young men at the void deck. Maybe he’s there with them. Before he started guzzling cigarettes and hanging out with the wrong company, he was just like any ordinary school kid.
An ordinary boy, who went through the tall blue gates every weekday for school (if he didn’t oversleep). He had a dysfunctional family. His dad was always angry, and pulled him out of a prestigious school for ‘misbehaving’. The only wrong this boy committed was to be bursting with energy. Everywhere he went, he was running and jumping. That was then.
Fast forward a few years, he had dropped out of school. A gang took him in at his lowest. They took him in, but when the time came to bail him out of jail in the middle of the night, I was the one who took him out. Who knows what to expect from a call at two in the morning, right?
Soon, the monthly visits to the police post to extend bail come to an end. I tried my best to pull him out of the life he lived, the card he thought fate had thrown him. I felt I tried my best, but sometimes I wonder if there’s anything more I could have done. I stop to ask God if there was anything more I could have done. I get an answer, but it’s God asking me instead,
“The question is, would you do it all over again?”
In the distance, I see a block where someone else I know lives. Hmmm, wonder if he’s awake. He used to say we were really similar, and that’s why we were friends. We would sit together to talk, or sometimes sit in silence, for hours. He was battling depression.
On his good days, he’d have some pretty healthy thoughts. He’ll definitely get better if he keeps this up, with his medication. Then there’d come the bad days, when all reason is thrown out the window. Well, you don’t walk away when someone has bad days. You just keep being there, because you take a person both in their good and bad days.
However, the bad days soon outnumbered the good ones. Nothing I said helped. I persevered on. Then, the talking stopped.
I felt I tried my best, but sometimes I wonder if there’s anything more I could have done. I ask God again if there was anything more I could have done. I get an answer, but it’s God asking again,
“The question is, would you do it all over again?”
1 Corinthians 13 (NKJV)
The Greatest Gift
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Would I do it again, God? I would, over and over again. You see, the Word of God isn’t just some motivational or inspirational quote to paste on my wall. Even if the world misunderstands, or fails to understand. Over, and over again I would love. Because even in days with little faith and hope, love carries on – it carries on, over and over again. Call me a fool.